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Showing 1-10 of 68 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 159 reviews
on March 1, 2017
The author goes through a large number of real-world examples of applied mathematics, that I (a retired engineer) had thought were like breathing out, breathing in. When I shared a couple of them with my adolescent grand-children, I found some enthusiastic "aha!!" moments. Huh...
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on April 3, 2004
In this short book, Paulos does an outstanding job of pointing out what lack of number intimacy can do to a person. The anecdotes are outstanding, especially the ones on large numbers and on probability. For example, he shows how one is fooled by probability: If we have 23 people in a room, what is the probability that two of them have the same birthday? 50%!! Very conterintuitive.
The author also tries to understand why it is almost considered acceptable for a person to admit that one is "bad with numbers", while it not being ok to be "bad with words". The realm of psychology is not his forte, but the ideas he points to are interesting.
Overall, this is an easy to read book, much easier even to one literate with numbers. I was done with it in 3 hours, and was left wanting more, so much so that I am now buying some more of his works. If they are half as good as Innumeracy, then they will be good enough.
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on April 4, 2014
Loved his writing style. Breezy and entertaining, though all about a dreaded subject (for me)... math! I have been an innumerate, but this book sparked a lot of thought and I also understood most of the 'mathy' stuff he broke down. Though the book is not at all technical and, in fact, mostly is common sense. (Though there are areas where we need to use numbers to break things down- since not everything is common sense and we humans do sometimes get things mixed up-- in the areas of statistics and probability, especially.) I would read other books written by John Allen Paulos.
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on January 30, 2011
Generally I found Innumeracy to be a good book. It does a good job pointing out common errors people make with numbers, probability and basic logic. He uses familiar and perhaps useful examples to make his points. Examples include the likelihood of how one would die, gambling related probabilities, baseball batting averages, DNA evidence and much more. He also delves into pseudoscience like astrology.

Certain parts of the book require basic math knowledge (exponents, division, percents, etc). Paulos does his best to dumb down the math and he does so effectively but unfortunately I fear there is a decent swath of people that should be reading this book that probably could not comprehend parts of it. Thankfully those parts are not too frequent.
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on September 23, 2008
This was an interesting book that I would highly recommend to anyone NOT number-savvy. I had heard good things about it, and as someone who appreciates the importance of math, I thought it would be great to check out. It was written with the lay-person as its target audience, so being someone who already knows a great deal of mathematics, I was underwhelmed. The book is clearly written, and explains concepts slowly and carefully as it illustrates every-day math for the common person.

Honestly, this book felt a bit like "See Spot Run," but for mathematics instead of the English language. Even though it was a bit boring for the mathematically inclined, I highly recommend it for anyone suffering from "Mathematical Illiteracy." If you have ever said to yourself "I'm not a numbers person," then this book is for you.
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on November 8, 2014
Well written, thought-provoking exposition of the depressingly common fallacies and misconceptions which befall nearly everyone. The discussions and examples of relative risk, magical thinking, and misunderstanding of basic mathematics and statistics are reasonably thorough, but understandable, without the need for any mathematics beyond basic algebra. This should be required reading at the middle school level, for everyone!
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on December 3, 1998
I did not read the book but heard the author on a Public Broadcast program. The program discussed many of Paulos's books.
Paulos explained the errors people make when evaluating statistics or the results of studies. The book helps people become aware of numbers and math in a way that makes sense.
He explained how people mistake correlations and causal relationships in statistics. One example, The participants in a spelling bee -- people with large feet are better spellers. It is not because the people have large feet that makes them better spellers it is because they are older.
Other topics included how people can become better aware of numbers like million, billion, trillion. He explains probability. Random numbers etc.
I will buy this book.
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on September 12, 2017
I've read a number of skeptic books. This one doesn't break any new ground but it's a good addition to a skeptic library.
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on October 15, 2014
Paulos is upset, annoyed, even a bit angry about innumeracy --- "an inability to deal comfortably with the fundamental notions of number and chance" (p.3) --- that is becoming more widespread. His primary goal with this book is to illustrate why, and how, innumeracy negatively affects our lives and in doing so, also explains various mathematical, probabilistic, and statistical concepts. Although Paulos touches on many topics this book is by no means an exhaustive treatise of all things numerate. His discussion of the gambler's fallacy, regression to the mean, law of large numbers, and the central limit theorem, however, are especially relevant now that a basic understanding of statistics is becoming more and more important.

Paulos's closing remarks sum up the entire book: "In an increasingly complex world full of senseless coincidence, what's required in many situations is not more facts -- we're inundated already -- but a better command of known facts, and for this a course in probability is invaluable...Probability, like logic, is not just for mathematicians anymore. It permeates our lives" (p. 178).
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on December 1, 2011
I read this John Allen Paulos book on my Kindle not long after I'd read his book A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper. As someone who teaches college algebra to reluctant college students, I've considered adding one of his books to my syllabus. Better yet, I would like to add it to the reading list (if such a thing exists anymore) of elementary and secondary education majors. The ideas in Paulos's books are accessible even to the innumerate and all the more intriguing to those who have a background similar to his. This would be an excellent gift for the math-phobic student who enjoys reading.
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